Tolsma ready to 'drop the puck' on 2000 By Brett Borden DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 31, 2000) He was watching a minor league hockey game in Orlando, Fla., as part of a media tour this past weekend, but as far as Randy Tolsma is concerned, he...
Tolsma ready to 'drop the puck' on 2000 By Brett Borden
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 31, 2000) He was watching a minor league hockey game in Orlando, Fla., as part of a media tour this past weekend, but as far as Randy Tolsma is concerned, he may as well have been watching the upcoming NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season on ice.
Heavy contact and speed are the operative words in both arenas. And despite the loss of series stalwarts Ron Hornaday (who was also on hand representing the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division), Mike Bliss, Stacy Compton and Kevin Harvick, Tolsma sees no letdown on the scrapping it will take to get to Victory Lane this year.
"Three of the leaders from last year didn't leave," said Tolsma, who will once again steer the No. 25 Supergard Motor Oil Dodge for Impact Motorsports. "Jack Sprague. Greg Biffle. And Dennis Setzer -- to have one more year under his belt, is certainly going to be a great competitor. They're going to be as good as always, and you're certainly going to have some new competitors.
"We have some rookie drivers coming in. Mike Cope (Compton's teammate at Impact Motorsports), who has had great success in the (Slim Jim) All Pro Series, and Kurt Busch, who is a Southwest Tour champion, and he's getting good equipment.
"And Jimmy Hensley is back with a new team and Ron Hornaday's old stuff. Rick Carelli is back, and I think back and doing well. You're certainly going to have your mainstays -- your Biffles, Spragues and Setzers -- but then you're going to have someone new to step up and challenge and I think that will be myself and certainly Jimmy Hensley and Rick Carelli. I think it's going to be just as good as it has been."
One reason Tolsma is confident he can join that upper echelon is something he has coming into this season for the first time in his series career -- continuity.
"For the whole season, certainly we're excited," he said. "For one, this is the first year I've ever come back with the same crew chief. Same team. Same sponsor -- Citgo Supergard. Same manufacturer -- Dodge. To have a whole season under my belt with Gary Showalter and Impact Motorsports is just going to be a real catalyst for exciting things to come."
One of the most exciting things to come to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in a long time is the season opening race this year at Daytona International Speedway. Tolsma is ready to tackle the 2.5-mile trioval superspeedway, although it could prove more challenging for him than some of the other teams.
"Daytona is a new program for us," he said. "We certainly don't have the Winston Cup affiliation to draw information from."
Sprague, Biffle and Busch will have such a luxury. Like many others, however, Tolsma will have to go from scratch.
"We've certainly learned a lot from the tests, but we've had to do it real methodically," he said. "Gary's done a great job preparing the truck. We came with what we believe was a legal truck to every test, and Joey Arrington's done a fantastic job with the motors - only having one failure in '99.
"We look for that same success rate in 2000. Certainly to win Daytona would be a phenomenal feat, and a great career move, but we're excited about the second race as well. We had a great truck there last year."
For the first time in his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career, Tolsma can say 'we' and 'last year' in the same sentence. It could provide the difference in 'this year's' success.